Info Ministry fails to come up to PM’s expectations | Pakistan Today

Info Ministry fails to come up to PM’s expectations

–PM says info minister failed to highlight govt’s 100-day performance, scuttle fake news

–‘Paglay, Ab Rulaye Ga Kya?’, PM mocks Vawda at his plight

ISLAMABAD: During the longest cabinet meeting of the country held on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan came down hard at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for its ‘failure’ to effectively sell the success of the PTI government in the first 100 days, while showering praises on Minister for Power Omar Ayyub Khan, State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed and others for their ‘extraordinary’ achievements, sources confided to this scribe.

Background meetings and interactions with various sources who attended the marathon meeting have revealed that the prime minister not only scolded the Ministry of Information for its ‘lack of strategy’ but also shifted the blame to the info minister over the failure of some other ministries which signals the possibility that some cabinet members, like Sheikh Rasheed, were lobbying against Fawad.

For the performance review, the prime minister had asked every ministry to be specific and focus on three areas – reforms conducted, extraordinary profits gained and austerity measures adopted in the first 100 days.

Sources claimed Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry proved to be a ‘punching bag’ as the prime minister looked unhappy with the performance of his ministry. Apart from criticising the ministry’s performance, the prime minister commented that the ministry had no strategy to scuttle ‘fake news’ and sell achievements of the government in 100 days, they added.

When informed by Fawad’s ministry that the media houses were criticising the government because the previous government of the PML-N had given them extraordinary advertisements on rates seven times more than the private advertisement rates, the prime minister asked why this fact was not shared with the nation.

“Even I am not privy to this fact. Why the ministry didn’t share it with the public? What is your strategy to keep the public at large abreast of these facts? The ministry even failed to highlight that it was for the first time in history that a prime minister himself is holding his cabinet members accountable. When will you come up with a strategy to sell these facts to people?” the premier asked.

During the presentation, the Ministry of Information briefed the prime minister that under its reform strategy, a joint broad of PTV and PBC (Radio Pakistan) is being formed for which the ministry required a bailout package. Dr Ishrat Hussain, however, turned down the request, saying that no bailout package could be given as the government was already under stress, sources claimed.

The Info Ministry also faced criticism for some actions of others ministries. For instance, during a briefing by the Ministry of Power, the prime minister was informed that in a first, the ministry had devised a strategy to control line losses. The premier was told that the ministry had adopted insolated cables in various districts so as no one could use kunda for power theft.

At this, the prime minister asked why the Info Ministry failed to highlight such a huge success on the ground. Also, it was clubbed for its failure’ to scuttle negative propaganda against Asad Umar.

PM Imran showered praises on Omar Ayyub for achievements by power ministry. The premier remarked that whatever Omar Ayyub did in 100 days was not done in the past 30 years. He directed the minister to go after all WAPDA defaulters and power conservation measures and also to coordinate with the provincial governments if needed.

Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda told the prime minister that there were only three officers working along with him in the entire ministry: federal secretary, additional secretary and a joint secretary. Yet the minister said four projects had attained completion stage and were ready for inauguration by the PM. He also informed that he along with his four subordinate officers also did not have official cars. At this, PM Imran remarked “Paglay, Ab Rulaye Ga Kya? (Do you want us to cry now?)” which triggered a laughter in the meeting.

The women development ministry in its briefing also told the prime minister that there were only two officials – a federal secretary and joint secretary – yet the briefing took ten minutes which prompted praises by the premier.

The Prime Minister expressed dissatisfaction over the briefings given by federal secretaries of the Ministry of Finance, Board of Investment (BoI) and Aviation Division. The premier directed the BoI Secretary Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera to come up prepared within the next 48 hours on Ease of Doing Business so as the foreign investors could be lured to the country.

The premier expressed satisfaction over the briefings by the secretaries of commerce and industries & production.

The Ministry of Interior was a special case as the PM refused to take briefing, saying that every Pakistani knows the “good work” carried out in the first 100 days. He went on to say, “We know that Shehryar has got hold of a person who had become ‘untouchable’. That’s why Shehryar is facing one controversy after another and elements are trying to scanadalise him. But he has stood his ground. Well done!”.

The only question was asked about FIA reforms to plug money laundering through the traditional land, air and sea routes and also a crackdown on hawala/hundi etc.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]

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